Thinking of starting own translation business and need some guidance
Thread poster: Gattina1607 (X)

Gattina1607 (X)  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 04:36
English to German
+ ...
Jun 1, 2014

Hi everyone,

today I heard about this website and it immediately caught my interest. I'm a German/English and German/Spanish translator but am also an Executive Assistant working for one of Canada's largest banks. I speak 4 languages fluently and am thinking of starting my own business. Because of my daily commute to downtown Toronto and my 2 children it is really hard to juggle everything and it would be awesome if I could establish myself as a translator with some regular clients so that I can build my own business and work from home.

How do I get started? How much would I charge for a business translation f.e. and how long does it usually take to find good trustworthy clients?

I don't want to give up my job at the bank as long as I don't have a steady income through translations. I have too many financial commitments to be able to do that right away but I'm willing to work evenings and weekends to start my business.

Any advice would be appreciated.

Thank you.

Daniela


 

Phrase9  Identity Verified
South Africa
Arabic to English
Some tips Jun 2, 2014

Some thoughts:

- Don't leave your job until you reach a stage where you are confident that you can at least earn the same for translation work as you do from your current job

- How quick it takes you to get clients depends on how effective you market yourself..some important initial steps in this regards to take are: Upgrade your proz account and bid on as many jobs as you can - Create a website (check out wix.com) - create a linkedin profile that focuses on your translation - Update your CV etc

- If you market yourself aggressively and professionally you could make money from the get go but maintaining the momentum or increasing it will take more than your translation skills but will require you to treat your endeavor as a business with all that comes along with it of marketing, accounting, sales, etc..if you are really passionate about making translating your full time job then you will find that you learn all these other skills quickly


 

Woodstock  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 04:36
Member (2005)
German to English
+ ...
You can get outstanding information Jun 2, 2014

right here on Proz in the "Getting established" forum, because the kinds of questions you want answers to have probably all been asked and answered many times over. You will likely get some useful information in answer to your query, too, but in my opinion, I think it might be more efficient and thorough if you get as much information as possible by reading the forum content and not waiting for translators to post because we are often pretty busy making a living. That is what usually works well for me, anyway. Proz is huge and a wonderful resource for all things related to translation. Since you have a job and are not in a big rush, it seems, it would be really worth your while to explore the opportunities and advice already on offer here. I learned much of what I know about the translation business by doing just that.

Best of luck to you!


 

Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 03:36
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
You'll need a complete change of mindset Jun 2, 2014

It doesn't sound as though that will be too much of a problem, as when you say
it would be awesome if I could establish myself as a translator with some regular clients so that I can build my own business and work from home.

it shows that you're thinking of becoming a businesswoman, not just someone who "works for agencies". So you'll need to gather all that knowledge Phrase9 spoke of, finding out how to run a business in Canada, a business that will be very small but may export as much as 100% of its services (I doubt that you will be restricting yourself to Canadian clients).

You also need to be aware of the differences between an in-house translator and a freelance translator. One thing that strikes me immediately is that you've set your language pairs to translate from your native German into two other languages. That may be what you've been doing for your employers, but it isn't what you should be doing as a freelancer unless you have very concrete reasons for doing so. Your employer hired you then made use of your services to the utmost (and I'm sure you were/are very ableicon_wink.gif). A client has translators the whole world over to choose from, so will of course choose the very best within budget. That boils down to only translating into your very best language. In most cases that will be your native language, though there are exceptions and reverse pair translation is also quite common where justified.

In addition to Woodstock's advice to peruse this forum, I'd also advise you to look further around this site. Apart from all the other forums, there's the scam centre which is essential to help you avoid being scammed. Linked to that is the Wiki article on risk management and the many other Wikis - start with the ones on marketing and negotiation as you'll certainly want to rework your CV (and get yourself one that's very different from your employee's CV). Then there's the Site Guidance Centre, with all its advice on both starting as a freelance translator and using ProZ.com to the full. You can sign up for some free webinars. Once you're far enough down the road to invest a little money as well as time, then you should take out a paying membership if you want to make ProZ.com your professional showcase. You will then have full access to the Blue Board and you can host your website here. But be aware that using ProZ.com to get work really needs more than payment - to be visible to the better clients you need to figure near the top of their directory searches. OTOH, there are of course many client opportunities outside of ProZ.com.

I'm very confident that you'll be able to achieve your objectives. The main problem I foresee is that you're talking of freelancing while holding down a full-time job. Now, a part-time job is a definite advantage during the first few months when paid jobs will be scarce. But a full-time one will inevitably mean that you fail to respond quickly enough to client contacts and will have to turn down the majority of jobs because you can't meet the deadlines. It will also be difficult to find time for the all-essential marketing, which should occupy about a third of a new freelancer's time. So I think you will need to address that one quite early on, once you're ready to start issuing invoices.

Good luck!


 

Miguel Carmona  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 19:36
English to Spanish
Also... Jun 2, 2014

Phrase9 wrote:

- Don't leave your job until you reach a stage where you are confident that you can at least earn the same for translation work as you do from your current job.



What Phrase9 says is very important. You might be able to do it in a few months, but for some people takes years, and, sadly, many people never make it.

Besides, do not expect a steady flow of income, or a steady work load.

Freelance translation is a project-based profesional business. You go from project to project. The majority of freelancers acknowledge the fact that there are periods when they are extremely busy, having to work weekends, after hours, etc., and dry periods, where they can take some rest or invest their time marketing their services to potential new clients. And for the most part this is out of your control. Both periods, busy and dry, are of unpredictable length.

And be careful as to who you market your services to.

For instance, at the bottom end, there is ProZ's job board, and similar sites. It is your choice how and who you market to.

Think twice before you make your move...


 

Gattina1607 (X)  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 04:36
English to German
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thinking of starting own translation business and need some guidance Jun 2, 2014

Thank you everyone for your replies and information. Sheila, did I get it right that I should change my language pairs to reflect the source language to not be my native language? So for example English to German and Italian to German instead of vice versa? I can do all those combinations but obviously, German being my native language the translations would probably be easier and faster.

I will look through the getting established forum and work my way through it.

Right now it's really overwhelming thinking of holding down a full time job, 2 children and building my business from scratch but I want to try. I'm upset that I didn't find out about this website earlier because I've been on maternity leave for the past 10 months and could have started it then.

Thanks again for your help.

Daniela


 

Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 03:36
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
That's the norm Jun 2, 2014

Gattina1607 wrote:
Sheila, did I get it right that I should change my language pairs to reflect the source language to not be my native language? So for example English to German and Italian to German instead of vice versa? I can do all those combinations but obviously, German being my native language the translations would probably be easier and faster.

However, I have to say that your written English seems impeccable, so maybe you'd want to offer the reverse pair too.


 

Gattina1607 (X)  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 04:36
English to German
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thank you Jun 2, 2014

Sheila Wilson wrote:

Gattina1607 wrote:
Sheila, did I get it right that I should change my language pairs to reflect the source language to not be my native language? So for example English to German and Italian to German instead of vice versa? I can do all those combinations but obviously, German being my native language the translations would probably be easier and faster.

However, I have to say that your written English seems impeccable, so maybe you'd want to offer the reverse pair too.


Thank you Sheila. I live in Canada but moved only 8 years ago. Languages have always been my strong suit and I really enjoy them. I will most probably offer the reverse pair as well. If I feel like it's too much I can always change iticon_smile.gif


 

KateKaminski
Local time: 03:36
German to English
It is almost impossible to work as a freelancer and a full-time employee Jun 2, 2014

I started out trying what you are considering - and it was not a good idea. Agencies tend to want work done right away (I have never worked out why ALL translations are super-urgent!) and course, if you are at work all day you will not be able to meet their deadlines. You will be tired when you get home and potentially deliver work which is not your best.

I would think about taking a few weeks of work, perhaps, to try out a few freelance jobs.


 

Ewa Olszowa  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 22:36
Polish to English
+ ...
Some ideas Jun 2, 2014

• Send your resume to Canadian translation agencies – but check them on Blue Board first to avoid future problems with non- and slow-paying agencies.
• Become a member of professional translator’s association (in Ontario ATIO), and in the future get the Certified Translator designation – this way you can translate official documents for use in Canada or other countries (i.e. Germany)
• Advertise in the local communities/businesses/government offices where the foreign languages are spoken.
• Check on local competitors, what kind of translations they do, how much they charge and what qualifications they have – it will be easier for your to position yourself on the market and you can get some ideas how to enhance your qualifications
• Consider also interpreting – court or community, then you can get a MAG or IRB designations – interpreters with these designations also do translations and they are often accepted – for example driver’s licences.
• Keep in mind that most of the translations for the Canadian market is done into and from the official languages. Probably not so many in foreign to foreign language combinations.

If you have time tomorrow (June 3), come over to the recruitment fair. It is mainly for interpreters but there are agencies that look for both - translators and interpreters:

http://healthcareinterpretationnetwork.ca/?ai1ec_event=6th-annual-recruitment-fair&instance_id=18

As for running the small business – check the Revenue Canada website – they have a lot of information on taxation, HST, as well as video-courses on establishing and running small business in Canada.
Also try these:
http://www.canadabusiness.ca/eng/sgc-35/
http://www.ontario.ca/business-and-economy/small-business-enterprise-centre-locations
http://www.brampton.ca/EN/Business/sbec/seminars-events/Pages/welcome.aspx


It took me two years of both - full time job and part time translation - before I decided to quit the job and switch to full-time translation.
Good luck!


[Edited at 2014-06-02 22:12 GMT]

[Edited at 2014-06-02 22:13 GMT]


 


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